Tag Archives: Russia

House Intelligence Committee members refute chairman Nunes

It turns out that Rep. Devin Nunes’ breathless news conference a couple of weeks ago was much ado about nothing, a dog and pony show designed to create a grand distraction for the Trump administration after a very bad day of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that he chairs.

Now that members of his committee and its staff have had a chance to review allegedly the same documents that White House sources shared with Nunes, their assessment is that there is nothing to see here.

CNN reports CNN Exclusive: Classified docs contradict Nunes surveillance claims, GOP and Dem sources say:

After a review of the same intelligence reports brought to light by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides have so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal, multiple sources in both parties tell CNN.

Their private assessment contradicts President Donald Trump’s allegations that former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice broke the law by requesting the “unmasking” of US individuals’ identities. Trump had claimed the matter was a “massive story.”

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FBI is sweeping up Russian hackers in a global dragnet

A Russian hacker arrested in Spain this past weekend is the latest suspect swept up in a global dragnet that U.S. officials hope will yield intelligence on Russian government interference in November’s presidential election. Russian Hacker Busted in Spain Latest in Global U.S. Roundup:

At least six Russians have been arrested in Europe on international warrants over the past several months, according to McClatchy Newspapers. The most recent arrest was Friday in Barcelona, where a 32-year-old Russian computer programmer was nabbed.

Pyotr Levashov, 32, was arrested Friday. A tweet from the Spanish National Police said that “In cooperation with the FBI, one of the most wanted cybercriminals has been detained in Barcelona. He is accused of scamming and data theft.” The U.S. has charged that Levashov is spam kingpin Peter Severa, who is closely associated with Russia’s most active cyber criminals.

According to Russian television, quoting Levashov’s wife, armed police stormed into their apartment in Barcelona and quizzed her husband for two hours. Later in a phone conversation from a Spanish jail, Maria Levashov said her husband told her the arrest was “linked to Trump’s election win.”

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Jared Kushner: Oops! Did I forget to mention that?

Donald Trump’s utility infielder, his son-in-law and de facto Secretary of State Jared Kushner, seems to have a memory problem. Or maybe like his father-in-law, he has a lying problem. Or is it just arrogant indifference to complying with the law?

The New York Times reports that this Trump princeling Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms. Oops! Did I forget to mention that?

When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest.

The omissions, which Mr. Kushner’s lawyer called an error, are particularly sensitive given the congressional and F.B.I. investigations into contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. The Senate Intelligence Committee informed the White House weeks ago that, as part of its inquiry, it planned to question Mr. Kushner about the meetings he arranged with Mr. Kislyak, including the one with Sergey N. Gorkov, a graduate of Russia’s spy school who now heads Vnesheconombank.

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Who knew? The ‘Gang of Eight’ knew – in August

The New York Times reports that the C.I.A. Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed:

The C.I.A. told senior lawmakers in classified briefings last summer that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president, a finding that did not emerge publicly until after Mr. Trump’s victory months later, former government officials say.

The briefings indicate that intelligence officials had evidence of Russia’s intentions to help Mr. Trump much earlier in the presidential campaign than previously thought. The briefings also reveal a critical split last summer between the C.I.A. and counterparts at the F.B.I., where a number of senior officials continued to believe through last fall that Russia’s cyberattacks were aimed primarily at disrupting America’s political system, and not at getting Mr. Trump elected, according to interviews.

The former officials said that in late August — 10 weeks before the election — John O. Brennan, then the C.I.A. director, was so concerned about increasing evidence of Russia’s election meddling that he began a series of urgent, individual briefings for eight top members of Congress, some of them on secure phone lines while they were on their summer break.

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Devin Nunes forced to ‘temporarily step aside’ as House Intelligence Committee chair

The New York Times reports, Devin Nunes to Step Aside From House Russia Investigation:

Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Thursday he would step aside from leading his committee’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

His announcement was made on the same morning that the House Committee on Ethics said Mr. Nunes was under investigation because of public reports that he “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

Read the House Ethics Committee’s statement on Devin Nunes.

The congressman has been under growing criticism for his handling of the Russian inquiry. Many on Capitol Hill have said he is too eager to do the White House’s bidding and cannot be an impartial investigator into questions about any role President Trump’s associates may have had in last year’s Russian campaign to disrupt the election.

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The conservative media entertainment complex is an ancillary to Russian ‘active measures’ propaganda

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post reports on how the conservative media entertainment complex and the Trump administration are amplifying “active measures” (propaganda) practiced by the Russians, as we learned from expert testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. Anatomy of a fake scandal, ginned up by right-wing media and Trump:

President Trump started off his morning as he often does, by settling in to watch the festival of nincompoopery that is “Fox & Friends.” On the show, he saw something that he believes vindicates the bizarre and false charge he made that Barack Obama was tapping his phones during the presidential campaign.

I’ll try to sort through the substance of all this. But I also want to make a broader argument about how Trump’s support system — inside his government but especially in the conservative media and on Fox, which is where he apparently gets most of his intelligence information — is playing to his worst instincts, harming him politically, and making his presidency even more dangerous.

Today’s antics all started with a report on “Fox & Friends” in which correspondent Adam Housley reported that a high-ranking Obama administration official had requested the “unmasking” of the names of Trump officials who were caught up in surveillance of foreign targets. Ordinarily, when a U.S. person shows up in such surveillance — say, talking to a Russian ambassador whose communications are being monitored — that person’s identity is blacked out in reports on the surveillance. While Housley did not identify the Obama administration official, he did say that Trump associates were being picked up by this surveillance for a year before Trump took office.

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